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Marc Etches – Independence move sees GambleAware secure its new guiding vision

Speaking exclusively to SBC, Marc Etches Chief Executive of GambleAware details the crucial developments and changes the industry charity has undertaken during the course of 2018, as GambleAware readies for the critical launch of its new UK-wide Safer Gambling advertising campaign…

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SBC: Why has 2018 been such a critical year for GambleAware’s organisation, structure and operations?

Marc Etches (Chief Executive – GambleAware): During 2018, GambleAware completed its move to establish a Board that is wholly independent of the gambling industry.  This was necessary to secure public trust and confidence given our central role in commissioning research, education and treatment services.

Furthermore, we published our new Strategic Delivery Plan, which demonstrates the dramatic growth we are delivering across all three areas, with a budget of £16m for each of the next two years.  We will triple the number of people getting the various forms of treatment we fund, deliver prevention at scale through our education and harm minimisation initiatives, and commission an ambitious £8 million research programme as agreed with the Gambling Commission.

 SBC: This year we have witnessed industry consensus on tackling problem-gambling harms, what are your thoughts on these industry-led developments? 

ME: All forms of gambling carry risk and all sectors of the industry can do more to reduce gambling-related harms.  The industry is judged as one by public opinion, so developing a consensus that tackling harms is a shared imperative should be a priority.   Any steps in this direction from the industry are to be welcomed and should be seen as necessary in running a sustainable and trusted business.

SBC: As a charity and gambling-harm support unit, how is GambleAware expanding its support network and structures?

ME: We will increasingly look for opportunities to partner with existing organisations to deliver at scale as cost-effectively as possible.  That includes others in the third sector, such as our recent partnership with Citizens Advice, and with the public sector, where we have seen welcome progress with local authorities, devolved governments, public health bodies and the NHS.

SBC: Why is GambleAware’s new upcoming marketing campaign such an important initiative. How have you developed a new message to promote to UK audiences?  

ME: The Safer Gambling Campaign is fundamentally a public health campaign, highlighting the risks of gambling and signposting people to the help available.  We set up a new, independent Campaign Board to lead the effort. We have invested our time heavily in qualitative and quantitative consumer research, looked at similar campaigns globally, and sought advice from leading academics and public health experts.  We are being as transparent as possible, publishing the research on our website, and have an open invitation to those who may wish to offer advice, as well as an advisory panel with former problem gamblers, treatment providers, other charities and wider stakeholders.”

SBC: At a UK policy level, how is GambleAware shaping research and knowledge of gambling addiction as a national health issue?

ME: Our research is primarily driven by the Gambling Commission’s research programme, in the context of the National Responsible Gambling Strategy.  Both of these documents are subject to regular consultation and updates.  Based on this evidence, and that being developed around the world, we aim to illuminate the debate around gambling-related harms, and we are working hard to share research in a more comprehensible manner.”

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Marc Etches – Chief Executive – GambleAware